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Conference Proceeding

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General Papers

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This study examines the effect of descriptive norm messages (i.e., highlighting what others are doing) on intentions to increase investment risk. Evidence shows that alarming numbers of people nearing retirement insufficiently save for this next life stage. In addition, research finds that differences exist in investment risk tolerance between men and women, with many women investing too conservatively. This finding is of particular concern as women typically experience longer lifespans, thus relying on accumulated savings for longer periods of time. The present study extends work in financial marketing by examining the influences of social norms and peer influence, constructs shown to be instrumental in guiding behavior. An experiment using 182 U.S. student subjects tested the hypothesis that introducing descriptive norms concurrently with certain variables (financial self-efficacy and gender traits) influences the level of risk taken within investment portfolios. The results did not support the hypothesis; however, we did find support for the existence of differences in investment risk between genders and show that financial self-efficacy is associated with greater financial risk taking.

About the Authors

William Montford is a second year PhD student in the marketing department at Florida State University. He is studying consumer behavior and marketing strategy, with an emphasis on financial and health-related decision making. He currently has work under review at the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing. William holds an MBA and a BS (finance), both from Florida State University. Prior to joining the PhD program, William worked in industry as a marketing manager and as an investment analyst and portfolio manager for several institutions. Currently, he works as a graduate research and teaching assistant. Ronald E. Goldsmith is the Richard M. Baker Professor of Marketing at Florida State University. He has published over 160 journal articles, 100 conference papers, and three books. His research interests are in the field of individual differences in consumer behavior.

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